I spent a few moments this morning catching up on blogs I have negelected to read over the last few weeks. I’m still about a month behind.
An article in the Spectator by A. N. Wilson, the novelist and biographer, caught my eye. Wilson had what he described as “a road to Damascus experience” in his conversion to atheism 20 years ago. However, he says, “My doubting temperament, … made me a very unconvincing atheist.” There has been a slow return to Christianity since then. Here are a couple of paragraphs:
When I think about atheist friends, including my father, they seem to me like people who have no ear for music, or who have never been in love. It is not that (as they believe) they have rumbled the tremendous fraud of religion – prophets do that in every generation. Rather, these unbelievers are simply missing out on something that is not difficult to grasp. Perhaps it is too obvious to understand; obvious, as lovers feel it was obvious that they should have come together, or obvious as the final resolution of a fugue.
I haven’t mentioned morality, but one thing that finally put the tin hat on any aspirations to be an unbeliever was writing a book about the Wagner family and Nazi Germany, and realising how utterly incoherent were Hitler’s neo-Darwinian ravings, and how potent was the opposition, much of it from Christians; paid for, not with clear intellectual victory, but in blood. Read Pastor Bonhoeffer’s book Ethics, and ask yourself what sort of mad world is created by those who think that ethics are a purely human construct. Think of Bonhoeffer’s serenity before he was hanged, even though he was in love and had everything to look forward to.
These are great observations. I do not have an ear for music (well, not for classical – as someone brought up on the rock music of the seventies, I have an ear for that), and there have been moments when I have completely poo-pooed classical as nonsense. Now that I am a bit older and wiser I realise how pompous is that form of “nothing-buttery” (as Prof Donald MacKay of Keele would have said). There is something there even though I do not know it or understand it. Atheists are in the same category, I think, hanging on to the “nothing-buttery” of materialism.